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Nobel Gazing

With Nobel season nearly upon us — the winners of this year's physiology or medicine prize will be announced in 10 days — predictions of who may win abound. In their yearly assessment, Thomson Reuters says that researchers who developed the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing approach are leading the chemistry pack.

As Reuters reports, the Intellectual Property & Science unit of Thomson Reuters examined researchers' citations as a means of gauging the impact of their work and their standing in the field. It says it has correctly predicted 37 laureates, though not always in the year they won.

Through this, Thomson Reuters predicts that Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley, could win for developing the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing approach. There is, though, an ongoing patent battle regarding which team, Charpentier and Doudna or the Broad Institute's Feng Zhang, was the first to invent the approach. But, Christopher King, an IP&S analyst at Thomson Reuters, says Zhang's citations didn't rise to the level of being a Nobel contender.

According to Thomson Reuters, other potential winners in chemistry include the University of Texas' John Goodenough and Binghamton University's Stanley Whittingham for their work on the lithium-ion battery and Stanford University's Carolyn Bertozzi for her bioorthogonal chemistry studies.

Over in medicine, Thomson Reuters predicts that Kazutoshi Mori of Kyoto University and Peter Walter from the University of California, San Francisco, could win for their studies of the unfolded protein response, though it also highlights Washington University in St. Louis' Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University in St. Louis as a potential laureate for his work examining the relationship between diet and metabolism and the microbes living in the human gut.